Feb 5, 2010

Romance: How Much Is Too Much? (Part One)

     I have found that romance is a controversial subject among Christians. In these next three posts, I would like to tell you what I believe, why I believe it, and why I apply it to reading and writing. I do not intend this to be a putdown of any differing convictions you may have, and I hope that you will comment with your thoughts;  I only want to have my personal beliefs written down so that there will be no confusion about how I approach the books I read and the stories I write.

     So the question that many single people ask is, “How much romance is ok for me to have before I am married?” I think the answer is very plain. None.

     Let me tell you a story, paraphrased from the book Before You Meet Prince Charming by Sarah Mally:

     Once upon a time, you, a servant of the King, are entrusted with a gift. The King gives a gift to each of the other servants as well. You are all instructed to guard each of your gifts carefully and, when the time is right, to find the perfect person who will receive your gift. Well, you eventually notice that some of the servants are sharing their gifts with each other. They are taking bits and pieces from each other and giving bits and pieces away. You are now faced with a choice; will you give your gift to just anyone or will you save the whole thing for the only, right person, as the King instructed you to do?

     The King is God, your Creator, and the gift is your heart.

     Do you desire to have a godly, wonderful marriage? Do you desire to please God with your life? God desires the very best for you. He has given you a wonderful gift meant to be given away. We, as humans, are meant to love and be loved.

     This is where the dangers are. Because God has given us the freedom to give this gift away, we can easily abuse it.

     Dating, for example, is a classic pitfall for giving away your heart and your purity. Consider this; dating is a cycle during which you give away pieces of your gift. You meet someone, you date and, if you do not really like them, you break up. If you do fall in love with the other person, you give your heart away and are crushed when they leave you for someone else. The cycle goes on. Now let’s compare dating and divorce. I was once told that dating is “practice” for divorce. That makes sense, doesn’t it? Dating does not prepare you for a life-long relationship; it encourages you to have fun when you want it regardless of how it affects other people.

     But you do not even have to be “officially dating” to give your heart away, or to unintentionally steal the heart of another. There are many ways to fall into the trap. The simple flirtatious glances, the misleading flattery, the huge runaway crush. Before you know it, you have fallen in love with someone who may or may not truly love you in return. You have given your heart away.

     Proverbs 4:23 tells us to guard our hearts. But what is the best way to do that? What is the alternative to the world’s alluring way? For fear of losing all interest on this rather long post, I will continue in part two tomorrow.

Post Tenebras Lux!


Anonymous said...

Excellent, excellent! My curiosity and interest are very strong, ST, I can't wait for the next part!

The point that stood out to me the most was "Dating does not prepare you for a life-long relationship." I never thought about it that way... what does one gain by dating?

Though, for the sake of argument, what would you say to a Christian teenager who dates while trying to do it in a God glorifying way? One of my friends, I believe, is like this. She likes this one guy in her neighborhood and he seems to like her, so they generally sit beside each other or choose the same teams in outdoor games and stuff and refer to it as informal dating. She has talked this relationship over often with her parents and carefully with her close friends, she is pure in their relationship, she is sensitive to the guy and, when she saw that he might not be interested in her as much any more, backed away carefully. So, any way, would you believe this kind of dating is wrong, and if so, could you elaborate?

I, myself, am against teen dating. I don't see the point of it and relate it with too many terrible stories and lives that I want no part in. I want to be able to thoroughly back up my side and so that's why I'm asking this question...

Sorry this was so long. I hope it doesn't take up too much of your time to read or reply.


Madeline said...

Dating is a huge problem. Dating used to be about finding a husband/wife - only now kids a lot younger than marriage age are dating...so dating kind of just turns into a sexual free-for-all and like you said, a setup for broken hearts. Also, I'd say a very small percentage of people who date are actually looking for a husband/wife.

In my perspective, if you're a Christian, you don't have to date, because you know God will simply show you your partner when he knows both of you are ready - at the perfect time. In that situation, there is no opportunity for bad choices and broken hearts if you're listening to God.

Nathan R. Petrie said...

Great post ST. I can appreciate that :)

In fact that's my stance. Why date? What's the purpose? It should be to find a spouse. Until one is able to be married, don't date.

And even when one is able to date, don't get in a relationship until you REALLY know the person already. Courting is what I call it.

:) Glad to see that there are others who agree with me. People drive me nuts with their crazy relationships :P

Brianna said...

This is so true. The analogy of giving the "gift" away is perfect. Dating is usually not about finding a soul mate at all; it's about having fun, yet so many hearts are broken in the process. It's not the only way to find that "perfect someone"... not that we really need to "find" them. If we believe in God, don't we believe that He's capable of bringing that special someone to us, at the right time, without any of our help? Anyway, courtship is a much better process. Perhaps that's what you'll get into in the next post.

Thanks for saying what may be culturally unpopular, because it needs to be said. And it's encouraging to see someone else with the same convictions. I look forward to Part 2! :-)

Storyteller said...

Thank you all for commenting! It is great to see so many who know what they believe.

whisper, about your friend; is she ready for marriage? If not, then why is she doing it? There is no reason to date/court unless you are ready for marriage. I am glad your friend has talked about her relationship with her parents; it is very important to involve the authorities God has given us in this area of our lives. However, I would not chose to date the way your friend is, simply because I am not certain that I could trust myself in that situation. People can be terribly persuasive, and I would not want to give myself a chance to make a mistake.
It is great that you are seeking to be able to defend what you believe, whisper! I would really encourage you to read "Before You Meet Prince Charming." It has helped me tremendously in defining what I believe and why. Here is a link to the Mally's website, Tomorrow's Forefathers. Click on "Store" on the top bar and you'll be able to find the book there. http://www.brothersandsisters.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=frontpage&Itemid=53
Oh, do not be sorry! I want to hear your comments and questions. :)

Barie-ah Hue-en-la said...

I totally agree on dating but-

“'How much romance is ok for me to have before I am married?' I think the answer is very plain. None."

If we have it your way, we'll all have arranged marriages. :P

If we aren't supposed to love before we are married, are we supposed to marry, then love?

I think that is not what you meant, but it is what you suggested with your words.

Storyteller said...

Barie, I did mean exactly what I said. There is a large difference between lust and love. Love, real, pure love, is from God alone. It's the 1 Corinthians 13 love, the kind of love we are supposed to show to everyone. Romance does not have much to do with this kind of love, it has more to do with the love between a man and a woman; more lustful, but not necessarily sinful.

Romance and love are not the same thing. Romance gives us carnal pleasure, whereas 1 Cor. 13 love calls us to deny ourselves and prefer the needs of others.

I am not preaching arranged marriages. I do not have an arranged marriage, and I am doing it this way. Many others are doing it this way, and we have been greatly blessed. We are doing it because we think it is better than the alternatives.

What I am saying is that romance before marriage is a dangerous thing to do.

I hope that clears it up for you. :)

Nathan R. Petrie said...

ST, romance is a term just like love is. So romance before marriage is debatable depending on what you think the word "romance" means.

One cannot help physical attraction, you can stifle it. But it will remain. One also cannot help loving someone's personality.

And both can be done lust-free.

Am I supporting dating? No. But it's a hard thing to say it's completely wrong, all the time.

What I am saying, is though a crush can and will arise, to proceed with a friendship at first (which ultimately is the same as honorable dating) and then, when age and maturity come to proper terms, take steps towards romance.

Storyteller said...

Keeneye, I believe I just defined romance as something that satisfies that physical attraction.

God has given us these desires, but we must keep them in check.

The thing with the typical dating cycle is that there is zero consideration of your future spouse and the person you are dating. There only needs to be one person, not lots of other people that you have "tried out."

Of course a friendship can and should form. However, it should not start out romantically. It should be casual, but cautious. And there should always be a third party, preferably your family, involved.

Romance is a great thing. Love is an amazing gift. BUT! The question is, are you ready for marriage? If not, then why have romance? And even when you are ready for marriage, be careful. I know someone who was engaged and her fiance called of the wedding at the last moment. Even after engagement, it is better to wait until you both take the vow to be loyal, until you are both certain of the other's love.

Barie-ah Hue-en-la said...

That's exactly what I think, Keeneye.

Nathan R. Petrie said...

St, I think you're thinking we disagree when we actually don't ;)

I agree that there should be no physical action taken on either side in a relationship until marriage.

I am against typical dating.

"Trying people out" is stupid, pointless, and wrong.

Yes, until we are ready for marriage there should be no romance, physical action taken. But love cannot be stopped. Action can.

So channel love into a friendship, because that's what marriage is ultimately. You'd be "dating" per say, but just as friends to the world.

Essentially, you can intimately love someone without anything physical going on. This kind of romance is fine in my opinion, you treat them as friends until age and maturity permits marriage.

Storyteller said...

Ah, you are correct; I believe I did misunderstand you a bit. Please forgive me.

Hm, so when you say "So channel love into a friendship, because that's what marriage is ultimately" and "Essentially, you can intimately love someone without anything physical going on. This kind of romance is fine in my opinion, you treat them as friends until age and maturity permits marriage," what kind of love do you mean? 1 Cor. 13 love?